The No-Excuses Quick and Dirty User Testing Method

Brian Laiche
Oct 2 · 3 min read

Yes, research is important. But, it doesn’t have to always be a large production. It doesn’t have to cost any of money or take up a lot of time. We don’t have to spend weeks curating a list of users willing to participate, or writing a foolproof interview that doesn’t lead the witness. We don’t have to convince the finance department to give incentives to participants, and we don’t need to waste our time in meetings on top of meetings testing our idea.

It doesn’t have to cost any of money or take up a lot of time.

As designers, we should always be validating our ideas. But, rarely do we get the opportunity to do so. We are stuck keeping up with a dev cycle, constrained by budgets and deadlines. This shouldn’t stop us. What can we do instead? Test anyway. Quick and dirty, oh, and free.

All we need are 3 simple things:

  1. User
  2. Prototype
  3. Task

A User

Anyone can be a user. So, when we have an idea, ask someone, anyone! Any feedback is better than no feedback. Just maybe not our mom’s, She’ll love anything we show her. I’m sure there is someone in your office, co-working space, or even the local coffee shop that has 30 seconds to share their opinion. Politely hand them the prototype get feedback and move on. In 15 minutes You can get 10 people’s opinion and validate the idea. They don’t have to be an actual user of the product. Sometimes, it’s better that they aren’t.

A Prototype

Making a prototype doesn’t need to take up a lot of time. There is no need to make it pixel perfect, dribbble post quality, filled with the latest fluffiest animations. Unless, of course, you are testing an animation. You can even just draw it on paper. Paper prototyping is super fast, plus you can erase and redraw the UI on the fly if needed. Make it something you can mock-up in 5 minutes. Don’t spend longer than an hour. Focus on the single task you want your user to complete. Leave everything else out.

A Task

This doesn’t need to be complex. A simple ‘complete X task’ is all we need. We aren’t looking to test every feature here. Pick one feature, one task, and validate it. That’s it.

Now Test

Now is time for feedback. Again, any feedback is better than no feedback. Go to our users, hand them the prototype, ask our question and observe. Take quick notes. Then move on to the next. Talk to 3–10 people. if a pattern begins to develop, we know where to focus our reiteration.

Reiterate

Make any changes needed and repeat.


This can become apart of our daily design. The more feedback, the better we as designers become. And, the better our product serves its purpose. Now get out and get some feedback.

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